In this time of concern and anxiety about the future of our country and the world, the Hebrew Scriptures remind us of God's providing for the Hebrew people. They had no food and water in the desert. Without divine intervention, they would starve to death.
The only hope for the Jews was God himself. Because of their trust in him, the Lord provided water from a rock and manna (a type of bread) from the heavens.
In the Christian
Scriptures, we learn of the time when Jesus had been preaching to a crowd of
5,000 men and curing people throughout the day. It was getting toward evening.
His disciples had expressed their concerns and asked Jesus to dismiss the crowd
so they could find food and shelter for the night. Jesus simply responded: "Give them some food yourselves." The
disciples told Jesus that all the food that was available was five loaves
of bread and two fish. There was no way that they could feed the 5000 men and
probably some women and children.
The disciples had to put their trust in the Lord because it did not make sense to them. Jesus rewarded their faith by taking the five loaves of bread and two fish, lifting his eyes to heaven, offering a blessing and breaking them, and giving them to the disciples to distribute. The food multiplied so that the disciples are able to feed the crowd and have twelve baskets of food left over. This prefigured what Jesus would do at the Last Supper and at every Mass since.
In the Eucharist, we are
blessed to have Jesus as our loving companion. Sometimes, when people receive
the Eucharist during their last days, it is referred to as Viatecum.
The word comes from the Latin: Via (on the way), te (you), cum (with).
However, that word can be a comfort all the time because Jesus is with us all
along the paths of our lives.
God wants us to know
that he cares and provides for us. However, it is not always in the way we
expect. Often it is only when we look back over our lives that we see how he
provided and even carried us at times. I love the poem “Footprints” which
illustrates that so well.
Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
Scenes from my life
flashed across the sky,
In each, I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints;
other times there was only one.
During the lowest times of my life
I could see only one set of footprints,
so I said, “Lord, you promised me,
that you would walk with me always.
Why, when I have needed you most would you leave me?”
The Lord replied, “My precious child,
I love you and would never leave you.
The times when you have seen only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”
Jesus invites us to participate in caring for ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Jesus knows that in difficult times, if we focus only on our own problems, we become weighed down. However, if we try to find solutions for ourselves and others, we are able to make it through.
I can recall my mother’s
giving me similar advice. She told me: “If you ever find that you
are feeling sorry for yourself, remember there are others worse off than
you are, and do for them.” In these stressful times, we see many
people and even children, helping others to deal with the tragedies and
disasters so common today. Often they become more Christ-like people
as a result.
Reflection Question 1: During the Feast of Corpus Christi, we celebrate the Eucharist, made up of many grains of wheat, a reminder that we are all parts of the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus calls us to show love for one another. A very important way to reach out to others today is to become involved in social justice causes. St. Katharine Drexel gave an excellent example in her day. What does she say to us?
Stephanie Morris, Ph.D. Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
St. Katharine wrote that “Working for social justice can take many paths.” Social justice for St. Katharine was giving each his/her due. All were to be treated equally and fairly. For her and for the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, education was an important path for promoting equal treatment.
Another path was letter-writing. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the Mississippi Flood Control project. Negroes working for white supervisors in the South was not treated or paid the same as their white co-workers. St. Katharine wrote to President Roosevelt, protesting this injustice. She and her sister Louise D. Morrell also supported the work of the NAACP in highlighting this double standard. Walter White, Executive Secretary of the NAACP, thanked St. Katharine and Mrs. Morrell for their invaluable support in correcting this injustice.
We can find our own path, whether by prayer, letter writing, financial support, voting, or other means, to promote social justice in the United States, the “land of the free.”
Reflection Question 2: Think of a time when someone in very difficult circumstances reached out to help others and simultaneously helped himself or herself. Share your memories.
Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
The first thing that came to mind when I read your reflection question was, “Support Groups.” As I thought about it, I felt gratitude for the multitude of needs supported by so many gatherings facilitated by compassionate people who can hold the pain of others as precious because they experienced a similar event, situation, or circumstance.
I have participated in a few such groups and have always left the meeting feeling more hopeful than when I entered. The opportunity to tell one’s story and be heard, to listen to another’s story, shed tears and receive hugs, express anger, learn coping tips, all in a nurturing environment, is healing as well as renewing. The Holy Spirit is very active in such life-affirming spaces.
Twenty-seven years ago, when my youngest child was just a toddler, my friend and I started a support group for separated and divorced women. We met twice a month in my living room. The gathering was the brainchild of my friend, a psychologist, who saw many women who were bitter toward men and, by focusing on perceived wrongs done to them, held themselves prisoners by their limiting belief that they were victims.
The foundation of our group was to support and uplift one another to move forward with our lives as stronger and more self-aware women. We called our group Self-Empowerment. My friend was committed to inspiring women to claim their wholeness by acknowledging their accountability and responsibility for their own choices, decisions, and actions. The eye-opening techniques grasped were life-changing for many of us.
For individuals unable to get to meetings, the Internet can be a window to beneficial supportive communities. Whether grieving the loss of a loved one, a relationship, marriage, or job, to feeling intense fear resulting from a devastating diagnosis, worry surrounding addiction, or fatigue resulting from caregiving – there is positive support available to guide us through life’s difficult experiences.
I became aware of Chris Wark, via the Internet, when my friend, Jill, was diagnosed with cancer. Jill received the traditional treatment protocol – surgery, chemo and radiation, but she felt there was more she actively needed to do to regain her health. Chris Wark not only regained his health but is healthier now than before his diagnosis as a result of healthy lifestyle changes he personally made. His online community (firstname.lastname@example.org) became a resource for Jill as she incorporated his tried and proven enhancements to nutrition, exercise, meditation, and rest.
He developed twenty questions that every newly diagnosed patient should ask his or her oncologist prior to initiating treatment; he created a powerful docu-series on healing modalities, and he posts ongoing interviews with people who have successfully beat cancer! Positively healing, genuinely caring information to help others as they journey through cancer treatment is provided. Helping cancer patients achieve wellness has become his passion and mission in life. See his ongoing resources at (email@example.com).
Jesus was the model support group leader. He drew diverse peoples together, and spent three years dispelling worldly fallacies, teaching spiritual principles, and introducing people to a higher level of living, caring and sharing for themselves and others. Communion was his passion and mission. He died promoting it. However, the group, Christians, continues His mission to this day as its members, individually and collectively, extend His love through ministering to others.
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers and grandfathers.
Also, blessings on all those who care for others
in a loving, fatherly manner!